I set a goal last year to read 52 books. I came up just short by 9 because I realized I don’t read much during the summer. During the school year, I read all the time, but over summer, I find myself getting immersed in the things I don’t have time for during the school year… like video games (specifically Final Fantasy)… This year, I’m also behind because, again, summer, and because I made the stupid decision to start the Game of Thrones series. That right there is an undertaking if you ever did see one. I haven’t started the 3rd book, A Storm of Swords, because the 2nd one, A Clash of Kings, took me so long… it was really hindering my reading game!
Since I’m trying to rejuvenate myself to pick up at least 1 book this summer, I figured I’d share my top 5 absolute favorite books (in no particular order) from 2017.
In 2017, I set out to read more books with male leads because I had a lot of male students who needed decent book recommendations that I couldn’t give. Enter Brown’s Red Rising. At first, I thought it had a Hunger Games feel to it, but then it quickly distinguished itself as something far superior; yes, it’s true, I actually liked this MORE than The Hunger Games. This book is vicious and violent and has a main character that is seriously flawed but you love him and his moral code so much. I was hooked instantly- such a powerful beginning- and then I quickly devoured books 2 and 3, Golden Son and Morning Star. The series has continued with a new book, Iron Gold, that released earlier this year, but I haven’t brought myself to get past the first 3 chapters yet- I was already aching (in a good way) because so much has changed… I know it’s going to be amazing, but I know I am going to go through a rollercoaster of emotions that I’m just not ready for.
This book was my first foray into the works of Neal Shusterman, and I couldn’t have chosen better. Like the majority of books I read, this one is also part of a series, and it is magnificent. The premise got me hooked- what if all children had to be born, but at 13 we could give them to the government for parts to heal the sick and wounded? The scariest part about reading this whole series is that you feel like ‘this could actually happen if modern science was advanced enough, and people had enough of the bickering from both the pro-life and pro-choice sides’. It’s creepy, really. Unwind is told from multiple perspectives and has a cast that is so incredibly diverse. You will also find yourself going through love/hate relationships with each and every one of them, and you will feel SO MANY EMOTIONS while you read. Book 1 is the perfect set-up for books 2-4 (UnWholly, UnSouled, UnDivided); this is a series that gets subsequently better until you reach a finale that leaves you speechless- Lev, . Because of this series, I truly believe anything Shusterman writes is gold, so, naturally, I continue to pick up more of his works, and I have not been let down by the man since.
Behold the book that launched a thousand readers. Little bit of a hyperbole, but whatever… So, I randomly came across this on Amazon and thought, ‘okay, sounds interesting’ and put it on my Christmas wishlist. Well, I got it and decided to read it over the break and OH. MY. GOSH. I was up until I finished it. I had to buy the other books (because, yes, there’s 4 more), and books 2-4 took about a day apiece to read; book 5 didn’t release until March, so there was a wait there. In my little obsession here, it hit me that I had a group of senior girls (I wouldn’t give this to below junior level) who had aptly refused to read for 4 whole years despite me throwing countless recommendations at them, and this would be the book that would break their refusal. Y’all- my aide bought a copy of all the books also (because yea, I got her hooked too), and these 5 girls FOUGHT over these for the rest of the school year; there were literally desks knocked over and coffee (not mine!) spilled to see who could grab book 5 off my desk first once I got it. One of them actually asked for the whole set for her birthday, and her parents thought I had performed some voodoo witchcraft on their daughter but still didn’t hesitate to get them for her because holy crap she actually was reading. It may have taken 4 years, but by golly those 5 girls read 5 books in 5 months before they graduated high school. #TeacherWin
Back to the book- It is kind of raunchy and there is so much debauchery (why it appeals to senior girls), but it is written in a way that you are freaking hooked (yes even you, the adult). The story just keeps going and going, and you don’t ever get a break- Boom Bombshell, Boom Lessons to be Learned, Boom Stupid Mistake, like ahhhh I need a drink! The first 3 books (Paper Princess, Broken Prince, Twisted Palace) are written with one couple being the main focus and are the best of the 5. The last 2 (Fallen Heir, Cracked Kingdom) focus on a different main couple and are still good but do not compare to the original trilogy. But, all 5 center around one family, The Royals, who are insanely wealthy, regularly make bad decisions and pay for them (both literally and figuratively), and ultimately try to the do the right thing for those they care about. These books are soooooo good, and if you have yourself a mature female reluctant reader- you’re welcome.
At first, I had no clue what was happening- like none of it made sense. Then, I realized, she’s a prisoner writing her confession, and she’s so full of crap! Once it all clicked, I thought, ‘this is genius’ because I love a good tale from the perspective of an unreliable narrator. It’s not until the 2nd half of the book when you switch perspectives that you find out what is true and what is not, and I’ll never think of, “Kiss Me, Hardy!” the same way again. Like, I don’t know if I’d have the cojones for all that, and oh… the therapy that would be needed. This is a powerful tale of friendship which takes place during World War 2 and would be a wonderful book study opportunity for AP (Advanced) classes. I know there’s a sequel, Rose Under Fire, but I haven’t read it yet because I’m not sure if I’ll like it. I’ve heard mixed reviews, so if you’ve read it, your input will be taken seriously here. I’m just on the fence about whether or not to continue a tale that I think ended perfectly. Why ruin a great thing?
Last school year, the senior English teachers decided to read this with their classes, and I was a little confused because it is like a 5th-grade level, but I still went with it. I can see how most kids think it’s boring at first. It can be because the action is limited and most of the book is about his training which kids can’t get behind. But once he leaves Battle School and has to do the actual virtual simulator, things were a lot more interesting especially with the twist at the end. I started the book with them, but then finished that night because I really liked it… and, the twist? yea, WHAT. THE. F$%@. I didn’t see that coming, and it made me appreciate the book that much more. There were kids with some strong emotions in class that day.
I know there is like an entire universe of Ender books, but figuring out the order to read them is still confusing to me. I bought Ender in Exile and the Ender’s Shadow series, but I haven’t read them yet because supposedly there’s another book I need to read in there too. I don’t know, for me, the series order seems kind of like the Marvel movies… all over the place with no direction on which order to proceed to enjoy them. I know I can Wiki the list, but that’s extra work, and I already have an ever-growing TBR list.